Hiking - How to Set Up the Perfect Hike

Trail hiking is one of my favorite outdoor activities. I love to grab the day pack, invite one of the kids or my wife and take the dog to one of dozens of hikes in our area. I love the fresh air, stress-relieving exercise, and views of nature.

In 2020 I logged 200 trail outings and more than half were hiking trips. I added up the mileage and probably logged around 500 hiking miles. We hiked through forests, over rolling hills, across snowy glaciers, along rivers, around lakes, over tressels, through tunnels, and more. We hiked loops that included several lakes, loops to outlooks and back through valleys as well as out and back single track.

What an awesome year for hiking adventures!

How to Enjoy the Perfect Hike

Over the years we've learned how to execute the perfect hiking trip. We've learned how to plan, what gear and supplies to take, how to prepare for the weather, how to stay safe and how to ensure we get back home safe.

Adventure Story: Polar Bear Plunge

...we took pictures at emerald lake at the bottom of the glacier. The water was so cold that the glacier snow remained solid while submerged. One of the guys touched the glacier water and remarked at how cold it was.

Of course, that's when the dare was born: "Who wants to take a polar bear plunge?" one guy yelled. Someone else responded, "I'll do it if you do..."

Read the Story

Below you'll find the following topics:

  • Tips for executing the perfect hike
  • How to build the perfect day pack
  • Top hiking product reviews
  • Best hiking resources

If you're like us you'll love the trail and hiking will become second nature. Let's get started.

Hiking Tips

Over the years we've learned how to set up the perfect hike. We thought we'd list a few tips to consider for your next outing:

Basic Tips

  1. Plan ahead - even if you decide to go on a spontaneous hike, take a minute and plan just so you're prepared. If your hike is more involved, spend the time you need to make sure you're ready.
  2. Know your route - pull out the map or GPS and locate the trailhead and exit.
  3. Gear up (Day Pack) - make sure you have the right gear and supplies. Many hikes are day hikes. We recommend taking a day pack with you (see below). At minimum carry:
    • multi-tool
    • water filter
    • first aid kit
  4. Dress right - know your weather, climate and terrain. Be sure to dress in layers so you can add or subtract a layer if you get cold or hot. Consider these layers:
    • Waterproof Jacket
    • base layers (for cold weather)
    • zip off pants  - you can have shorts when it's warm and add the pant legs as it cools off
  5. Footwear - take quality hiking shoes. The sole should have deep tread and good traction. We strongly recommend waterproof shoes for many hikes. Make sure your footwear is broken in so you don't get blisters.
  6. Tell someone where you're going - be sure someone knows where you're starting, your route, and when to expect you home. Don't forget this one! You want someone coming if you get injured or lost.
  7. Buddy up - Take a buddy with you in case you get injured or lost.

Advanced Tips

  1. Mole Skin - Blisters can form at any time, however they form most often with new shoes. Learn how to use moleskin.
  2. GPS - On hikes you've never done before or in terrain where you can get lost easily, take a GPS dievce.
  3. Topo Maps - If you are scaling a steep trail or bushwhacking through thick brush you'll need a topo map so you can read the grade of the territory.

Outdoor Tips

  • Leave No Trace
    Leave the outdoors better than you found it
  • Buddy System
    Always take someone with you
  • Give Notice
    Always tell someone where you are and when you'll be home
  • Safety First
    Be prepared for the elements and first aid situations
  • Layer Up
    Dress in layers so you can adjust your temperature

Recommended Hiking Gear

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Survival Kit - 1 Person

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Survival Kit - 2 Person

Overall Best Ready-made Emergency Kit

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Shop Wearable Gear

Safety First

We all have different risk tollerances. As I've gotten older I've consciously slowed down a lot and take fewer risks. I've seen guys with life-altering injuries who can't enjoy the outdoors any longer. I talked with a man this week who has messed up his knees and joints so much he can't go on a simple hike. That can't be me!

When we venture out, we need to keep in mind that we have future outdoor experiences to enjoy so we need to get home safe after every one. Our chances of survival and safe return increase with a few principles:

  1. Prepare before you go out
  2. Take adequate first aid supplies - just in case
  3. know your limits and opt for safety over risky activities.

Having the right first aid supplies handy can help a lot. Make sure you have the right supplies for the activities you're doing. 

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Survival Medical Guide

Critical first aid field guide for survival situations

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First Aid

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First Aid Kit - EDC

Personal Everyday Carry IFAK First Aid Kit

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First Aid Kit - Tactical

Tactical, Portable IFAK First Aid Kit

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Shop All First Aid Kits

The Perfect Day Pack Checklist

I take my day pack on every outing. I log between 100 and 200 outings per year. I'm often surprised how often I needed the gear and supplies in the pack. Over the years I've locked down the perfect day pack for my climate and area. This checklist is highly recommended trail gear for every day pack. Of course, you can adjust for your area and outing style.

I divide my gear and supplies into 3 kits: gear, first aid, toiletries. These kits go into my pack and are with me on every outing.

Gear Kit

  • Water filter
  • Multi-tool
    • blade
    • saw
    • tweezers
    • screw drivers
  • Paracord
  • Lighter
  • Ferro rod
  • Emergency blanket
  • Poncho
  • Emergency fishing kit
  • Snares
  • Duct tape
  • Head band (ear protection)
  • Safety pins
  • More...

First Aid Kit (IFAK)

  • Bandages
  • Ace bandage
  • Tablets
    • Pepto
    • Tylenol
    • Allergy
  • Bug spray
  • Sun screen
  • Alcohol pads
  • Burn cream
  • More...


  • Pocket tissues (perfect portion of toilet paper)
  • Carmex
  • Toothbrush (handle cut off)
  • Toothpaste
  • Nail clippers
  • More...

Top Rated Products

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Rubbermaid Lockable Bin Container

Sturdy, lockable, plastic industrial totes/bins for survival gear

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Sterilite Bin Container

Sturdy plastic industrial totes/bins for outdoor gear

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Waterproof Gloves

Durable, waterproof gloves for emergencies

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Shop Packs and Containers

Top Hiking Product Reviews

I'm a former Scout Master. I've used or seen others use just about every outdoor product you can imagine. When it comes to hiking, there are some pretty tried and true products you can rely on. Here are some of the outdoor products we recommend taking on all outings.

Click on the image to read the review or click on the button to purchase.

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Camping Cookware/Mess Kit

Modern cookware mess kit with accessories

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Biodegradable All Purpose Soap

Clean your hands, body, dishes and other items with biodegradable multi purpose soap

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550 Paracord Type 3

Milspec type 3 550 paracord for survival

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550 Paracord with Integrated Fishing Line, Wire, Tinder

Enhanced milspec type 3 550 SurvivorCord for the outdoors

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Ideal primary option for rapid fire starting

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Ferro Rod with Striker

Great secondary option for fire starting, especially when wet

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Pocket Tissue

Individually packaged pocket tissues and toilet paper.

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Toiletry Kit

Toiletry kit for the trail or camping

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All Time Best Sellers

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Personal Water Filter - Sawyer

Affordable, long lasting personal water filter and purifier for the trail

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Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool

The most popular, reliable outdoor multi-tool on the market

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Rechargeable LED Headlamp 450 Lumens

Durable, rechargeable 450 lumen LED head lamp for hands free trail use

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Hydration Bladder

2 Liter leak proof hydration bladder for trail daypacks and backpacks

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Shop the Gear Catalog

Hiking Resources

Being prepared with some survival skills, trail information, and weather forecasts can make your hike relaxing and help you get home safe.


Don't get lost! Find the right map for your area. We recommend reviewing the map BEFORE your embark on your adventure. Get a feel for the topography, water sources, trails and roads, etc.

Choose Your Map


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Survival Handbook

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Time to Hit the Trail

We love our trail time! We hope your outings this year are memorable, relaxing, full of adventure, and safe. 

We'd love to hear about any memorable stories you experience. Submit them to us and if we feel the story matches the site we'll publish it.

Gear up, prepare, and hit the trail! Enjoy!

1This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
2 As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
3 Most reviews are based on personal experience from one of our content editors. Some are based on research and the opinions of other reviewers.


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